Debit Card Danger Zones

Would you knowingly allow a stranger to have access to your bank account? It may seem like a silly question, but if you are using your debit card instead of your credit card to make purchases at risky locations, this is exactly what can happen. Although the two cards may look alike, their transactions are very different as purchases made with a debit card withdraw cash from your bank account, while credit card purchases use a line of credit extended to you by the issuing bank. 

No matter which card you choose to use, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office recommends that you never use your debit card at the following locations:

Outdoor Automated Teller Machines (ATM) present a perfect opportunity for thieves to skim your debit card with devices that are placed over the real card slots or inserted into the machine. These skimmers capture information on the card’s magnetic strip and are often hard to spot. Tip:  Use an ATM located inside a retail outlet, banking institution or other high-trafficked, well-lit place.

 Gas stations. While pretending to get gas, a fraudster can install a skimmer on a pump in just a few seconds. Pump skimming is popular with thieves because these skimmers can capture hundreds of card numbers in just one day. Tip: Use cash or credit card when filling up; however, if you must pay with your debit card, go inside the gas station and pay the cashier.

 Online purchases. Just because you can order online with a debit card does not mean you should. Data breaches and malware can leave your bank account vulnerable to intrusion. Tip: For better protection and less risk against unauthorized transactions, use only a credit card for internet purchases.

 Restaurants. Anytime your debit card leaves your hands, fraud is possible. Restaurants, delivery orders placed over the phone, and merchants who do not take the necessary steps to safeguard your payment information can be problematic for consumers. Tip: Using a credit card or cash is the best way to keep unscrupulous employees from emptying out your bank account.

 For more information about this Safety and Security Tip or to report a fraud or scam, call the Sheriff’s Office fraud line at 258-3280. To request a Crime Prevention Specialist to speak to members of your community, business, or organization call Community Relations at 258-3280.